If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Alberta, you have probably heard about a “cap” for personal injury damages.
By way of background, the Alberta government enacted legislation called the Minor Injury Regulation, Alta. Reg. 123/2004, which came into force on October 1, 2004, imposing a limit of $4,000 for non-pecuniary damages in cases where a plaintiff has suffered a “minor injury” caused by a motor vehicle accident. The “cap” limit is adjusted every year for inflation. For motor vehicle accidents occurring in 2017, the “cap” limit is $5,020.
You may be wondering whether the “cap” applies to your claim?
First, the “cap” only applies to your non-pecuniary damages (ie. often referred to general damages for pain and suffering). The “cap” does not apply to any other heads of damages you may have suffered (ex. out-of-pocket expenses, wage loss, etc.).
Second, the “cap” only applies “minor injuries”. The legislation defines a “minor injury” as a sprain, a strain, or a whiplash-associated disorder grade 1 or 2 injury that does not result in a serious impairment. The courts have subsequently provided guidance as to what type of injuries constitute a “minor injury” and what do not. In summary, if you have suffered any of the following injuries, the “cap” may not apply to you:
- Chronic or ongoing pain.
- A whiplash-associated disorder grade 3 or 4 injury.
- A fracture or broken bone.
- A dental or jaw injury including temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
- A concussion or brain injury.
- A psychological injury including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, or depression.
Accordingly, even if you have suffered a sprain, a strain, or a whiplash-associated disorder grade 1 or 2 injury, your claim may fall outside the “cap”.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, it is always advisable to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer.